Monday, May 17, 2010

Being Mindful

Never have I had so intimate a relationship with a strawberry as I had on Saturday night.  No, I have not irevocably lost my senses nor have I moved over to fruit for emotional support.

I was invited by a friend to attend a seminar by a local life coach which was centered around the topic of the Zen practice of mindful eating.  The woman had lost over 350 pounds after gastric bypass and kept it off for many years so I was interested to hear what she had to say.  I am not a meditative or particularly "still" kind of person but I am open-minded.  So off I went to the seminar.

I have been aware of mindful eating as a part of my weight loss process but I guess I practice my own version.  I try to slow down, chew food more, and recognize the taste of the food and appreciate it more than when I used to just shovel it in. It has allowed me to savor and enjoy food more and it allows me to eat less and be satisfied.

During the seminar, the life coach did an exercise in mindful eating using strawberries.  First she had us select a berry.  Then she turned the lights down and asked us to close our eyes.  She led a guided meditation to allow us to center ourselves.  Then she spoke very slowly and had us examine the berry, noticing it's texture, it's color, the shape, the seeds, the smell.  She asked us to think about how the berry got there, who picked it, the people who had been in contact with that berry.  Then she told us to take a small bite.  Notice the flavor, the sweetness, the sourness, the texture.

Okay, I know I shouldn't be like this but I do NOT have the time to take 5 minutes to eat a strawberry.  Nor do I want to take that much time to eat anything.  I know it was just an exercise and it had an impact on many in the room.  They enjoyed the berry more than they have when eating strawberries in the past.  They appreciated all the effort that brought the berry to us and the beauty of the fruit.  I did not have that epiphany.  I am just not capable of being that spiritual about my food.

I do believe in appreciating your food and the person that prepared it, slowing down, savoring it, and enjoying what you eat.  And I will continue to listen to other's different thoughts on how to eat healthier and how to become a better person. 

But I am trying to change my relationship with food and really do NOT need to love it more than I already do.  I am trying to teach myself that food is not about the feeling.  That it is needed to help me stay alive and to nourish my body but food does not have to have emotional attachment. It will be okay if something does NOT taste amazing.  I also don't have to eat it if it does taste amazing because it will not change my life.

That is my version of mindful eating right now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Love My Bugg

I was never one to commit to wearing a pedometer and was never one to completely understand how to figure out calories burned at an activity.  So although the concept of "burn more calories than you take in" was so simple and clear to me, the problem was . . . how do I really know how many calories I'm burning?

The problem centers around the fact that you burn calories with every little move of the finger, ride of the bike, jog around the neighborhood, and even when you sleep.  How could I keep up with all of that and get an accurate picture?

I had seen the Bodybugg on TV on "The Biggest Loser", heard others talk about it, and even read a little on-line.  But I didn't really get it until I got one.  The Bodybugg is a little square contraption that has an stretchy arm band attached.  You wear it all day (and night if you like) on your upper left arm, except in the bath or shower or pool.  It does NOT like water.  You can get a small display that looks like a digital watch that you can wear on your arm or clip it to your pants or bra strap like I do.  The display gives you the data if you are into instant gratification as I am. 

A couple of times a week, you hook it up to the computer, go to their site and upload your information and charge the battery.  I won't go into all the details on what you can do but there is tons of info on their site so check it out.

So what the Bodybugg basically does is counts calories you burn as long as you are wearing the armband.  It also counts steps you take, amount of time at an activity, calories burned during activity, calories per minute burned during high activity. 

So here's how I use it.  I wear it all day and night except in water.  The armband counts calories from midnight to midnight so I know how much I burn in total during a 24 hour period by checking the running total on the display.  When I attend dance class or just want to see how many calories I burn during an activity, I set a "trip" and the display tells me.  When I reach my calorie burn target, the display alerts me.  Since I am counting and logging calories all day on's Daily Plate, I don't use Bodybugg's website for meal tracking but it is available for those that want to do that.

Every morning, I go to Livestrong and pull up the previous days meals.  Then I enter my total calories burned (the display will show you the previous day's total) and compare how many more calories I have burned than I took in.  Some days I burn a couple of hundred more and some days I burn over a thousand more. 

My target to lose 1.5 pounds each week is to burn 800 calories more each day than I take in.  That goal is based on age, height, and current weight but it sounds like a lot, right?  It's really not.  Remember, you burn calories when you sleep.  But what happens is the armband and display remind me to get up off my hiney and move a little more.  Instead of sitting at my desk, I get up and walk around a couple of times more each day.  When I'm in the car for long stretches, I "dance" to the music on my Ipod.  Yeah, I look stupid to people in the other cars but they don't know me, right?  The point is, the little device reminds me that I need to move.

Bodybuggs are a little pricey - over $200 for the armband and display - which made me hesitate for a long time before buying one.  But it was well worth the money.  There are other brands with similar devices and all work essentially the same way with very few differences.  I have no knowledge if one is better than the other, I only have experience with what I own and I am receiving no compensation for endorsing the Bodybugg.  I just love it and want to share how it has helped me lose weight.

How do you track your exercise?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Finding The Reason

 760x315_RubyI love the show Ruby on Style Network.  The show is about a real woman, Ruby Gettinger, and her struggles to go from over 700 pounds to a normal size.  All fat women can identify in some way with either Ruby or with her friends.  On tonight’s episode, the season finale, Ruby and her friends attend a 6 day intensive therapy session to deal with their food addictions.  It was enlightening and hard to watch.  Ruby and her friends all went in thinking they were not addicted to food.  Don’t we all feel that way?

I am not one that leans toward group therapy.  I think it’s wonderful and works for many people but I don’t think I am one of them.  I am more of a one on one kind of person.  Of course, no one ever thinks it’s for them but I see it really does work and this show was interesting and gave some insight into the process.

One thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of reasons people are fat but the reasons generally have nothing to do with food.  Things in their past, issues of control, or depression all lead to issues with food just like they lead to drug addiction or alcohol abuse or exercise obsession.  It’s all addiction and none of us ever think we are addicted.

To watch the women on the show and see them relive the horrors of their childhoods and teen years was heartbreaking.  So many women have stories of abuse or alcoholic parents or unhappiness.  They use their weight as protection or as control.
I recognize now that I have an addiction but I am still trying to figure out where that addiction came from.  I had a very happy childhood.  There were unhappy moments as with all children but I really had parents that loved me and siblings to which I was close.  No trauma, no abuse, nothing to lead me to an answer.  There were addictions in my extended family but they did not directly affect me.

My family was a military family so we traveled and moved all over the world every few years.  We would return to my grandparents or family members would visit us at various times.  There would always be a feast or special meals.  Visits from or to the homes of family and friends were some of my favorite memories and I was always so happy during those times. 

I think that because some of my best memories and times in my life were always centered around family and food, I try to constantly recreate that feeling.  My favorite foods are foods that were served during those times.  They bring back that feeling.  And when family visits me, I want to serve those foods and provide that feeling for them.  It’s like rather than some time of pain causing a food addiction, the feeling of pleasure caused it.

I don’t know if that is the reason I’m fat.  My logic mind tells me I would not make myself fat because I want to be happy, especially because being fat does not make me happy.  But I do know this is a problem that I have to deal with and have learned that I cannot center family events around food.  I still do but I am trying to change that.  Thanksgiving should be about what we did, not what we ate.  That’s hard for me.

No matter the reason, I am changing my life.  I am learning that I need food to survive but it cannot make me happy.  It’s just food and it’s not that powerful.  I will not be happier if I eat three servings of mashed potatoes.  In fact, I will be mad later because I did it.  I can eat one serving.  Or I can take control and not eat any of it because it’s just potatoes.  It doesn’t bring back any of the people I love and miss.

And I will keep looking for answers and inspiration.
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